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Monday, 5 March 2018

Egypt, Saudi agree to establish SAR 60 bn joint investment fund, deepen cooperation during Sisi and MbS’ first meeting

Cairo and Riyadh to establish SAR 60 bn joint investment fund, sign three other MoUs on Sisi and MbS’ first day of meetings: Egypt’s Investment and International Cooperation Ministry and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund signed an MoU yesterday to activate a 2016 agreement to establish a SAR 60 bn (USD 16 bn) joint Egyptian-Saudi investment fund, Reuters’ Arabic service reports. A Saudi official told Reuters that Riyadh’s part of the new joint investment fund will be cash to help develop the Egyptian side of NEOM (robot utopia). Long time readers of Enterprise will remember that an initial agreement for the fund was signed during King Salman’s visit to Cairo in 2016, though nothing had come of it since.

Officials from both sides also signed MoUs yesterday covering cooperation between labor and freezone authorities, and another on cooperation on environmental protection, according to Al Ahram. The Washington Post is

The agreements were inked during a summit between President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is in Cairo for the first leg of his first public foreign trip since he became heir to the throne. The two leaders agreed that there is a need for additional cooperation across the board “to reflect the depth of strategic ties,” particularly on the fronts of economy and investment, and especially in tourism along the Red Sea Coast, an Ittihadiya statement says.

MbS and his delegation will be accompanying El Sisi on a number of visits to ongoing project sites during their three-day stay, according to Ittihadiya spokesperson Bassam Rady, who did not elaborate on the schedule. Sources tell Al Mal, though, that Monday’s agenda includes a trip to Ismailia and the Suez Canal, as well as the inauguration of a new hotel. Other sources tell The National that the “prince will underscore his commitment to Egyptian youth by pledging to build a new university in the Sinai.”

Both leaders also said they would continue the close coordination of efforts to resolve ongoing regional disputes and challenges, agreeing to “work together to fend off attempts at regional intervention and division.” Counterterrorism and Saudi’s efforts against Houthi rebels in Yemen were among the topics discussed.

The story is topping coverage of Egypt in the foreign press, with pickups from Reuters, The Associated Press, AFP, Asharq Al-Awsat, and Xinhua, who seem mostly focused on the trip meaning to “deepen the alliance between two of the region’s powerhouses.”

The Saudi prince will fly to London on Wednesday before he heads across the pond to the US on 19 March. “He is trying to reach out to Western investors to let them know that what happened in the past few months is nothing to be worried about—in fact this is an opportunity,” Alef Advisory founder Hani Sabra tells the Wall Street Journal (paywall). The Center for American Progress’ Brian Katulis agrees, saying that “they are coming here to tell the story about how Saudi Arabia is reforming its economy and letting women drive.”

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